A vascular ring is a blood vessel that develops, surrounds, and squeezes nearby structures such as the trachea (windpipe). These rings, which result from the abnormal development of the aortic arch, can cause respiratory or feeding problems. They are sometimes seen in newborns, though usually a bit later in life.
Vascular rings make up about 1% of all heart defects.
How is a vascular ring diagnosed?
Sometimes there are no symptoms, and sometimes the child experiences breathing and swallowing difficulties; a cough is frequent. A vascular ring can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are not typical of a heart condition.
A chest X-ray, echocardiogram, CT scan, or MRI may be done to diagnose a vascular ring.
How is a vascular ring treated?
Where there are symptoms, surgery is done to open up the ring.